As different as West Florida High and Gulf Breeze are, both teams have one thing in common.
Neither team expected to start the season 1-3.
“We’re in the same situation right now. We’re both trying to find an identity,” West Florida coach Harry Lees said. “Coach (Chris) Nemith gets more out of his kids than anybody in the area. I’ve got tremendous respect for him. He does things the right way, but it doesn’t matter who our opponent is.
“We’ve got to worry about us. We’ve got to clean things up. We’ve got to execute … we’ve got to stop making the mistakes that get us beat. It doesn’t matter who’s on our schedule next because it’s all about us.”
It has been a rough start for the Jaguars, first losing do-it-all quarterback Adarius Purifoy in a season-opening loss to Escambia and then culminating with a narrow 31-24 loss to District 1-5A rival Mosley last week.
The Jaguars enter Friday’s game looking to flip the script on their misfortunes.
“Hopefully we’ll play better than we have in the past, but I know it’s going to be a tough fight,” Lees said. “It always is — (Gulf Breeze) has an excellent quarterback, they play real fast and they do a lot of the things that Mosley does to steal possessions and things like that.
“It’s going to be a test for us, and hopefully our kids have their minds right because we need to be moving forward from this point.”
Standing in West Florida’s way is a Dolphins’ squad eager to reverse its own fortunes after a bitter 56-17 loss to Pine Forest during last week’s homecoming game.
The contest could be a thrilling one with quarterback Tyler Phelps (718 passing yards, 6 TDs, 75-143 attempts) matching up pretty well against Jaguars’ QB Erick Antoine (824 passing yards, 6 TDs, 50-129 attempts).
And, while Friday’s game will in no way decide the season, it will certainly provide an opportunity for both teams to get back on track.
“I think that at the end of the day they know that as bad as our start is, if we do the right things we can be in it at the end,” Lees said. “We still control our own destiny so it’s really all on us. There really isn’t a reason to get down. We just have to get better and we need to clean things up.
“We’ve got to do the little things right that have been creeping up on us, biting us and causing setbacks.”
Want to go?
Who: West Florida High (1-3, 0-1 in District 1-5A) at Gulf Breeze (1-3, 0-0 in District 2-6A).
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Gulf Breeze High School.
Skinny: Two teams in desperate need of a win will do their best to avoid falling to 1-4 on the season. The Jaguars, plagued by injury, will give their all against a Gulf Breeze squad looking to erase the memory of a bitter homecoming defeat last week.